Forgotten Realms: Empire of Ashes
Lands Yet Free
The Great Dale – In a desperate attempt to stop the forces of the Empire from destroying their homes, the Archdruids of the Great Dale summoned the essence of an ancient, primal spirit of the forests – Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Woods, She with a Thousand Young. That alien presence now rules the forests of the Dale, and is spreading into other wild places of Faerun … as far away as the Forest of Mir and Neverwinter Wood, a dark force is twisting the woods into something that isn’t only alive, but awake – and something that isn’t only hostile to intruders, but seemingly hungry for them. To the Archdruids’ credit, the Empire can no more enter the woods and hope to escape than any other.
Halruaa and the Shaar – The isolationist magi of Halruaa, refugees of the Fall of Netheril thousands of years ago, have yet to weigh in on the situation. Indeed, no one has heard anything from them since the initial invasion. Reports from the south claim that something has happened to the Shaar, warping space and time within its lands, and making it impossible to traverse. The various humanoids and other creatures which stalk the lands seem well-enough to be able to get around, and indeed use the strange effects to their tactical advantage. The leading theory is that the archmages of Halruaa have cast a great spell to seal their borders against their returned ancestors.
The Great Rift – The greatest kingdom of the Gold Dwarves hopes to weather this storm as it has many before: by withdrawing into its impenetrable mountain stronghold. Thus far, with the Empire’s expansion checked by Thay and the Shaar, they have remained undisturbed … but there is a growing voice among the dwarves that they must come out of their isolation, and throw in their lot with the rest of the free peoples of Faerun, or face the fate of their cousins to the north.
The Underdark – Whether preoccupied with events on the surface, or hesitant to venture into the hoary tunnels and caverns of the Underdark, the Empire and the Prelacy alike have yet to establish any lasting presence in the Night Below. This doesn’t mean that the Underdark is a safe place for the Empire’s enemies – many of the denizens of the dark are more likely to slaughter/devour/enslave first and ask questions later (if at all).
Drow – The dark elves have taken distinct notice of the Empire’s expansion, and by-and-large, have instinctively identified them as a dire and powerful threat; they seek allies, even to the point of considering working alongside surface races – including their light-skinned cousins. While no official accord has been formed with the surface folk (or even between different drow civilizations), the dark elves are often seen to lend unexpected aid to others in opposing the Empire.
Duergar – Although there is no official race-wide accord, many grey dwarven enclaves have welcomed Imperial envoys – generally seeing the alternative, a bloody conflict that they could very well ultimately lose, as worse than dealing with the “surface-scum” as equals – providing Imperial forces their only major inroad into the Underdark. Many duergar suspect, however, that the Empire means them no good in the long-run, and while they feel no particular allegiance to outsiders, they plan their next moves carefully … including considerations of alliances outside the Folk.